Type to search

MLTJ Destination: Galway, Ireland


For years, Lydia Simmons had been dreaming about the green countryside of Ireland. Irish on her mother’s side, she recently took a solo trip to explore the country’s western region, staying in Galway and venturing out from there. On her trip, she became familiar with the city, one of the largest urban areas in the Republic, while also visiting the surrounding Connemara region and the Aran Islands. Here, she shares her recommendations.

About her trip: After hearing the tales of Irish folklore when I was young, I decided to book an early fall trip, during the shoulder season. I decided to venture out on my own—it was my first time traveling solo, but I enjoyed it immensely and made friends easily with the locals as well as fellow travelers. The weather was still nice, though it did rain part of the time I was there, but it wasn’t very crowded, which was a nice perk. I spent one week in the Galway region, taking advantage of tours so I wouldn’t have to rent a car and drive on the left side of the road.

Galway Cathedral

Her recommendations

Restaurants: On a recommendation from somebody I met on my travels, I went to Aniar, which is a boutique sort of restaurant serving high-end cuisine. The food was phenomenal and worth the splurge. On another night, I went to The Kings Head Bistro, which had great food and quite a range of international dishes. It was cozy and felt like an authentic Irish experience.

Radisson Blu Hotel and Spa

Accommodations: I stayed at the Radisson Blu Hotel and Spa Galway. It was the perfect location, right near the harbor. Everything was in easy, reasonable walking distance, which was how I preferred to get around. I also treated myself to some spa treatments while there.

From Left: Aran Islands, Eyre Square

Experience: This is such a lovely city and it’s nice just to wander around. The Galway Cathedral is a definite must. It’s so beautiful, especially from inside, which was quiet when I popped in. Eyre Square is nice to wander around, too, and there’s lots of shopping in the streets branching out from there, especially in the Latin Quarter. While I loved the city, I was most excited to explore the countryside. Not wanting to rent a car and risk driving on the wrong side of the road, I took a tour to Connemara and Cong with Galway Tour Company. It was very picturesque and the driver was nice and chatty, offering history as we went along. The tour was mostly comprised of couples and a few other single travelers. It was exactly what I’d expect from Ireland—rolling green hills and lots of ruins. We went to the Ross Errily Friary, made a stop in the village of Cong, which is very quaint, before taking a very scenic route to Connemara. The scenery is dreamlike, with small lakes and ponds dotting the landscape. We went to Kylemore Abbey and were free to wander the grounds, which include a walled garden and a small church. On another day venture outside Galway, I took a tour to the Aran Islands. It was a drizzly—and at times, downright rainy—day, but the sun persisted in the end. The small islands and their folklore are truly magical and a must visit while out there.

From Left: Kylemore Abbey; Ross Errily Friary

Something you won’t find in guidebooks: Salthill is a beach town not too far from Galway. It seems really popular with the locals, but there didn’t seem to be many tourists there. It’s pretty easily accessible by public transport, too. There’s a nice promenade area to walk around. I got lucky and had perfect weather for strolling around and watching the sunset.


Gone somewhere cool recently? Want to be featured? Tell us about your trip here.